University of North Texas

Colleges Avoid Mask Debate; Require Routine Testing For Unvaccinated Students

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Governor Abbott's order banning schools from requiring masks got another blow as the Texas Supreme Court refused to force schools to comply. The debate on whether to mask isn't just in K-12 schools but in higher education too who are taking things a step further and requiring testing on campus. 

Adam Navarro is in his freshman year at the University of North Texas in Denton.   After finishing up high school virtually, he is thrilled to be back in the classroom.

"It's a lot easier to learn when you're close to someone than online," said Navarro.

Almost all the students NBC 5 spoke to on campus were happy to be back in the buildings and around friends, but their concerns about the delta variant of coronavirus are still there.

"I'm a little concerned I'm not going to lie, I just want to be safe and keep my distance," said student Jae Min Yoo.

UNT Denton is a public university and falls under Governor Abbot's order which prohibits the school from requiring masks but just like many K-12 schools, they're strongly encouraging them and even going a step further asking students to report their vaccination status, and if they don't, they're requiring COVID-19 tests. 

UT Dallas and UT Arlington also have similar requirements in place.

"They're doing a good job at being socially distanced and telling people 'hey get vaccinated, here go get tested, wear masks,'" said student Janero Ramirez.

Thursday night, Texas' Republican majority Supreme Court rejected Abbott's mask mandate and sent it to a lower court which is majority Democrat.

The move is giving schools who mandated masks more confidence they can ban masks, but many K-12 and college campuses appear staying the course for now and strongly encouraging masks until this is all sorted out and relaying on testing to help.

"It helps us understand the overall rate of vaccination in our community and helps us understand the overall safety measures we should be putting in place," said Jennifer Cowley, Provost, University of North Texas in Denton.

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